The Hindu Festival of Lights is fast approaching. And with more restrictions loosening by the day, it seems celebrations are on the way. Good food, family, fireworks, art, and prayer abound in this blessed time as relatives reunite after months of separation. Families can now cross borders to be with their loved ones, and indoor gatherings are now permitted. However, it\u2019s still best to practice the safety measures, so we don\u2019t accidentally cause a new COVID-19 outbreak. Here are 8 tips for a safe Deepavali in times of COVID-19: 1. Basic protection Image credit: Shutterstock This goes without saying, but masks are still crucial even as our country reaches its endemic phase. It may seem awkward to keep a mask on indoors, but unless you\u2019re eating, you should try to keep your mask on. Alternatively, try to keep some distance between yourself and others when conversing. Also, do leave a tub of hand sanitiser at the entrance. You don't know where your relatives have been. 2. Vet your attendees Image credit: Shutterstock As much as we hate to admit it, some of us have anti-vax relatives. You cannot have these people over at large family gatherings. Getting vaccinated is a crucial step in reducing the number of cases. Even if you contract the virus, getting vaccinated greatly reduces your infectiousness. That means you will not likely pass on the virus to other people. So make sure all your attendees show proof of vaccination before they drop in for a visit. This goes for teenagers as well, since a large portion of them have also got their vaccines. 3. Invest in self-test kits Image credit: Shutterstock This may be overkill, but invest in self-test kits if you can. Make sure that your relatives test themselves as well for the virus before planning any gatherings. You need to be proactive. Even if your relatives have got their vaccines, it wouldn\u2019t hurt to self-test at home. Some of us may have contracted the virus and not show any symptoms as a result of getting vaccinated. While you are less likely to spread the virus once vaccinated, there is still that 1% chance. So better to be safe than sorry and get self-test kits for yourself and your loved ones. 4. Follow the SOP Image credit: Shutterstock Restrictions may be loosening, but they\u2019re still there. Keeping to the standard operating procedures\u00a0not only protects you from the virus, but also the police. You don\u2019t want a heavy fine on your plate. The link provided contains all the updated SOP rules for the Deepavali season. As per the current update, only Phase 3 and 4 areas are permitted to celebrate Deepavali. Fortunately there are no states in Phase 1 and 2, so pretty much the whole of Malaysia can celebrate Deepavali. However, you can only join the festivities if you\u2019re fully vaccinated. And you cannot organise dine-ins at temples or houses of worship. Phase 3 states include Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Perak, Pulau Pinang, Sabah and Sarawak. If you\u2019re from these states, you can do pretty much the same thing as those from Phase 4 states. However, you can only participate in celebrations between 6am to 2pm and between 4pm to 10pm. For Phase 4 areas, celebration times are up to the host. 5. Don\u2019t risk it Image credit: Pexels If you\u2019re running a temperature and fear you may have the virus, forgo the celebration. I know it\u2019s hard to miss out on the festivities, but you should not risk it. Chances are there will be many kids involved in Deepavali gatherings, and children are still not allowed to get vaccinated. They are the most at risk since they have no protection. Fortunately, the Malaysian government is already planning on rolling out vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11. However, we still don\u2019t know when this process will start. 6. Protect our children Image credit: Shutterstock Experts say kids have a lesser chance of contracting the virus, but statistics prove otherwise. Children are a necessary component in holiday celebrations, so instead of leaving them at home, mask up your kids. They may be uncomfortable, but at least they\u2019ll be safer. 7. Keep the numbers low Image credit: Shutterstock Keep your circle small and space out the gatherings over a period of several days, if possible. Only have a few relatives over at one time and plan their visitations so that they don\u2019t coincide. It\u2019s important to keep the number of attendees low, especially if you live in a small house. Ideally, there should not be more than 10-15 people at a time. Remember to follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) at all times. 8. Keep it sanitised Image credit: Shutterstock Good hygiene is a necessary requirement in stopping the spread of the virus. Make sure to thoroughly wipe down surfaces after each visitation. One good way to make this more convenient is alcohol wipes. Those can be easily dispensed and discarded. Festivities during trying times Image credit: Shutterstock Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. And with our recent victories against the COVID-19 virus, the arrival of this holiday is all too poetic. In the face of such death and tragedy, some merriment is long overdue. However, there are still challenges ahead, and we must be cautious as to not restart a new pandemic. With over 90% of the adult population fully vaccinated, our prospects are definitely a little brighter. Here\u2019s hoping our winning streak continues on until Christmas, Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and long after that. Image credit: Pexels Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and safe Deepavali from all of us at Motherhood Story! Do stay tuned for more insightful stories and fun recipes coming your way soon!